The Accrisoft Blog: A Year In ReviewThursday, December 26, 2013
2013 has been an exciting year for this blog. At the start of the year, I made a big decision to open up this blog to all nonprofits (rather than writing exclusively for chambers of commerce). And that is a decision I am very pleased with—it has been great getting to know my new readers. It is my sincere hope that all of you have enjoyed and benefited from my blog this year.
As 2013 draws to a close, I’d like to take a look back at what we discussed this year. The following post is a collection of the most important takeaways from this year’s blog.
It’s a worn-out saying, but the idea that “content is king” is now more relevant than ever. Content like web page text, blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers plays an important role in:
- Branding: “Content is the voice of your brand and it is therefore important to allocate the respect, investment and focus it requires.” -James Keady
- SEO: By writing content that answers searchers’ questions, you can increase the amount of relevant traffic to your website.
- Acquiring new customers (at a low cost): 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles versus an advertisement. Plus, content marketing costs less than traditional, outbound marketing – about 62% less per lead!
- Nurturing customer/member/donor relationships: 70% of business decision makers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company.
Launched in August 2013, Hummingbird is Google’s brand new search algorithm. Rather than focusing on individual keywords, Hummingbird allows Google to understand phrases and deliver more precise results.
That means you should start thinking about searcher intent—what questions are people asking in Google search, and how can your web pages answer those questions? What types of information are people looking for when they come to your website?
We looked at four design visionaries and applied their philosophies to web design:
Apple’s Steve Jobs and Jony Ive believed that “simple” doesn’t translate to “ignore all complexities.” Instead, simplicity requires a deep understanding of a product’s complexities, as well as the ability to conquer them by coming up with sophisticated solutions.
What could be potentially confusing about your website? How will you provide clarification?
Dieter Rams, former chief design officer of Braun, once said, “Weniger, aber besser.” Less, but better. He believes not just in simplicity, but also in centering the user’s focus on the most important elements of a product.
What are the most important aspects of your nonprofit website, and what are the non-essentials?
Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s design philosophy, which he dubbed “organic architecture,” involved a harmonious relationship between a structure and its environment.
How will your website design look in its different “environments”(AKA desktop monitors, tablet screens and small smartphone screens)?
Tools For Evaluating Your Website
Wondering if your website is in need of improvements? This year, we introduced several new tools and resources for evaluating your site:
- Checklist: 15 Must-Haves For Your Website
- Blog Post: Is Your Website Making A Good First Impression?
- Free SEO Audit
- Free Website Assessment
And, while not technically a “website evaluation” resource, our Top 10 Web Designs series is a great way to get inspired!
A content management system (CMS) works like this: your website development company does the complicated work of actually building your site into the CMS…then they hand you the keys, and you have the ability to add and update content as you please.
At Accrisoft, we build our customers’ websites using the Accrisoft Freedom CMS. This CMS enables our customers to:
- Update and add content to their website on their own terms, without needing any knowledge of HTML
- Redesign their website every few years, without losing any content or breaking the site
- Leverage built-in digital marketing tools like email marketing, web analytics, online forms and a blog platform
Social Media Tips for Nonprofits
This year’s Summer of Social Media was so much fun, it ended up extending into the fall!
Some of the highlights from this series include:
- How to behave on LinkedIn: "Treat LinkedIn with the same amount of respect you would treat a professional association meeting or industry convention, and you will be on your way to building and enhancing your LinkedIn brand." -Neal Schaffer
- 6 ways nonprofits can actually use that mystifying new social network, Google+
- How to develop a Twitter marketing strategy: Defining your goals, objectives and target audience, then choosing the best tactics.
- 10 Facebook Tips for Nonprofits
LinkedIn for Nonprofits
As the world’s top professional networking site, LinkedIn is the most valuable social network for organizations like chambers, associations and economic development councils—organizations that rely on business-to-business connections.
We spent eight weeks on LinkedIn strategies for nonprofits, discussing how to optimize your LinkedIn profile and make valuable connections, how to create your company page, how to use LinkedIn groups, and best practices for LinkedIn advertising.
Have you ever performed a search in Google and noticed on the results page several articles with people’s pictures next to them? Those people claimed “Authorship” by connecting their Google+ profile with their blog.
Download our Google Authorship Setup Guide for step-by-step instructions.
This fall was all about email marketing—here are some of the big takeaways:
- Email marketing accounts for nearly 7% of all customer acquisitions that occur online, making it more effective than social media for acquiring new members and donors.
- Emails with subject lines that include the recipient’s name are 22.2% more likely to be opened.
- Email open rates on mobile devices have increased significantly, while desktop open rates have dropped. Learn more about creating mobile-optimized emails.
- Always place your call to action near the beginning of the email. Download 27 Questions To Ask While Writing Your Email for more helpful ideas.
- Follow best practices for building and maintaining a high quality email list.
Thank You For Making 2013 Great!
I can hardly believe this is my last post of 2013! Before I go, I want to thank all of my readers for following along this year—your readership and feedback is greatly appreciated. I hope you have benefited from reading these posts, because I've certainly learned a few new things while writing them. Thank you for a great year, and I'll see you all in 2014!
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